Arriving in Florida after 12 years in the Caribbean, I find myself surrounded by a manicured suburban environment, rather than the inherently picturesque disorder of nature and barely restrained tropical decay more common in the Caribbean. Perhaps it is the difference that makes me notice, instead of take it for granted.
The gloss on the landscape along with the shiny baubles for sale in upscale shops distract from an awareness of the damage done to nature by the energy and other inputs required to maintain the suburban lifestyle. They also camouflage the increasing disparities in wealth and income, with poverty hidden away behind the bushes, in suburban homes, and in neighborhoods no one visits.
The manipulated landscape provides material for attractive imagery. The challenge is to find that beauty and evoke pleasure or a smile when the energy of life shines through — without losing touch with the unease at what may lurk beneath the smooth surface.
[Note: Someone asked why I had turned comments “off” on this post. That was unintentional, and I apologize. They are back “on” now. — May 5, 2011.]